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Ejection seat issue grounds Air Force’s F-35 jets

By Mark Shenefelt - | Jul 30, 2022

Photo supplied, U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nicolas Myers

U.S. Air Force Maj. Kristin Wolfe performs a demonstration in the F-35A Lightning II during at the Reno Air Races in Reno, Nevada, Sept. 19, 2021. The F-35 Lightning II Demonstration Team is based out of Hill Air Force Base.

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — The Air Force has grounded its F-35 fighter jets for an inspection of an issue with ejection seat firing mechanisms.

The Air Combat Command, based at Langley, Virginia, said Friday that it began last week a program to inspect all pilot ejection seat firing cartridges within 90 days after a concern arose about whether the cartridges will always fire on time.

“Out of an abundance of caution, ACC units will execute a stand-down on July 29 to expedite the inspection process,” the command said in a prepared statement. “Based on data gathered from those inspections, ACC will make a determination to resume operations.”

Combat Command spokesperson Alexi Worley said by email that the pause applies only to the command’s F-35s, not the service’s other fighter craft.

The F-35’s ejection seats are made by Martin-Baker, which has been producing ejection seats for decades. The company’s website says more than 17,000 of its seats are in service.

Efforts to contact Hill Air Force Base for further information were not immediately successful. The 388th Fighter Wing at Hill has 78 F-35s.

Reuters reported that the stand-down also affects some Air Force T-38 and T-6 trainer aircraft.


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